Primary Care Champion: Dr. Raymond Tsai

The Primary Care Collaborative is excited to honor Dr. Raymond Tsai, Vice President of Advanced Primary Care at the Purchaser Business Group on Health, as this month’s Primary Care Champion.

Purchaser Business Group on Health (PBGH) is a nonprofit collaborative of 40 jumbo-employers and public purchasers of health care that collectively spend about $350 billion to purchase health care for around 23 million Americans and their families. Through his role at PBGH, Raymond has led their strategic initiative to implement high-quality primary care across the nation.

Raymond’s passion for improving America’s primary care system comes from the knowledge that a strong primary care base leads to a more robust overall health care system and his longstanding experience working with primary care.

“The reason I am so, so passionate now about expanding access to advanced primary care, is because I know it works. I’ve seen it work,” said Raymond in a short interview with the PCC. “I’ve spent the last close to a decade working on behalf of employers implementing advanced primary care and have seen all the great benefits from it. And I'm so excited to share those benefits with other patients across the country.”

Before leading PBGH’s current initiative, Raymond helped establish primary care clinics directly for employers. The programs he developed provided comprehensive care for employees and delivered concrete results preventing chronic conditions such as diabetes.

“We established advanced primary care clinics that really look at whole-person health,” Raymond told the PCC. “So it's not just about the medical care from a physician, it's about being culturally competent, and having patient navigators, or what we called health coaches really helping guide a patient through a very complex system with that needs a lot of behavioral change, and a lot of, you know, social aspects to it as well.”

When questioned how organizations can help advance PBGH’s commitment to bolstering primary care, Raymond implored others to recognize the importance of primary care and center it as a business objective.

“At a very fundamental philosophical level, other organizations just have to realize that primary care has value and [be] willing to invest that value to get what we want from the health care system,” he said.

And while other stakeholders will play an important role in strengthening care, ultimately, Raymond also hopes for Congress to take action. He emphasized the importance of including primary care in efforts to reform Medicare payment, noting that many employers use Medicare reference pricing pay for medical services as many are not health care experts.

“Policymakers in Washington, DC, in particular, have actually a lot of levers at their fingertips, but one of the biggest ones is that they control Medicare and Medicare payment, and have a lot of influence over that,” he stated. “And so [employers] will follow. And so that responsibility is actually quite big. And I really, really hope that policymakers in Washington DC, think about that, when they are setting policy, because what they are doing really, really lays the groundwork for everybody else.”

The PCC is grateful to Raymond for his continued commitment to advancing the promise of primary care. You can learn more about Dr. Raymond Tsai and his role at the Purchaser Business Group on Health here.

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